Sessions 4-6 and the Universal Declaration
In Week Two of the World Summit on Combating and Preventing Forced Organ Harvesting, viewers heard from experts in media, social sciences, and government policy-making from the United States, Canada, France, Italy, Denmark, United Kingdom, Poland, Switzerland, Israel, Argentina, Cuba, Taiwan, and Japan. They discussed issues related to silence in the news media and self-censorship, global societal impacts resulting from the failure to confront China regarding its transplant practices, and how civil society can take steps to end this abuse.
At the end of Session 6, the initiating NGOs unveiled the Universal Declaration on Combating and Preventing Forced Organ Harvesting which provides a framework for governments, institutions, professional organizations, and individuals to join the fight to end the forced organ harvesting of living people in China.
Silence and Self-censorship by the Media Regarding Forced Organ Harvesting Crimes
The fourth session of the World Summit featured journalists from Italy, Taiwan, France, Japan, and Cuba as well as a Chinese witness. Journalism as a profession should safeguard freedom of the press and fight censorship and suppression of information. Yet the world’s mainstream media has failed in its duty to report on the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) forced organ harvesting of innocent prisoners of conscience. Credible research and investigations made over the past fifteen years have been generally ignored, leaving many around the world unaware of these human rights violations. Those who have suppressed the truth about China’s organ harvesting practices should be held accountable as accomplices to genocide.
Marco Respinti, Professional Journalist, Essayist, Translator and Lecturer, Italy
The first speaker of the session was journalist Marco Respinti, member of the International Federation of Journalists, member of the Advisory Council of the European Federation for Freedom of Belief, Director-in-Charge of the academic publication The Journal of CESNUR, and Bitter Winter, an international publication concerning issues of religious liberty and human rights.
Mr. Respinti said, “Forced organ harvesting has been decimating innocent people for decades, and in spite of a huge amount of evidence lately collected, for example by the China Tribunal in London (UK), very few in the world seem to be outraged, alerted, or even simply aware. Forced organ harvesting has massacred chiefly Falun Gong, or Falun Dafa practitioners, substantially reducing their number in China, but reports also document victims among Uyghurs, Tibetans, and members of The Church of Almighty God.”
In China, he said, “All religions and spiritual ways are systematically pushed to extinction, being deemed unnatural by the materialistic official philosophy of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, and the annihilation of believers is pursued through persecution, repression, unlawful incarceration, psychological and physical torture, humiliation, and death.”
Mr. Respinti explained how the CCP promulgates the “killing of innocence” with fake news and “mendacious answers” to establish “post-truths.” Additionally, the Chinese regime uses its propaganda machinery to murder knowledge, to misinform and disinform by means of co-opting the global media.
He pointed out that “Journalists cannot take for granted the official standard narrative on organ transplants in China… it is not enough to accept the supply and demand narrative on human organ transplants given by the Chinese Communist Party in the face of so many testimonies, statistics, research, and facts to the contrary.”
In conclusion, Mr. Respinti proposed the formation of a “pool of professional and good-willing journalists establishing and managing a web resource bank… on forced organ harvesting…” to directly challenge the Chinese regime.
Chang Chin-Hwa, PhD, Professor at the Graduate Institute of Journalism, National Taiwan University, Taiwan
Dr. Chang Chin-Hwa, an acclaimed scholar, award-winning teacher, and former board member of the Chinese Communication Society (CCS), discussed issues surrounding media coverage of the CCP’s organ harvesting.
In 2019, The China Tribunal, “conducted thorough investigations, including questioning over 50 witnesses, experts, and investigators” over five days of public hearings. It concluded with certainty that Falun Gong practitioners have been the principle source of organs for forced organ harvesting though others, such as Uyghurs, Tibetan Buddhists, and house church Christians are probably also at risk.
Despite the seriousness of the Tribunal’s findings, Dr. Chang was disconcerted to find only one report on the topic in all of Taiwan’s mainstream media which had a seriously misleading headline. The headline read, “Disclosing the lie! British hearing proved China persists in organ harvesting from executed prisoners.” The Tribunal was an international people’s court, not a British hearing, the victims primarily innocent, living prisoners of conscience, not criminals sentenced to death, and the CCP lies are habitual. She said, “The real critical point is that the findings of the Tribunal [are] a robust legal conclusion in response to the allegations of a serious human rights violation that has led to the death of thousands of prisoners of conscience for more than 20 years.” The news headline “significantly down-played the severity of the crimes and made light of the credibility of the Tribunal.”
In June 2021, twelve United Nations human rights experts issued a statement that they were “extremely alarmed” by reports of organ harvesting targeting minorities in China, including the Falun Gong. Again, the sparse coverage was deceptive. Taiwan’s Central News Agency headline read, “UN Human Rights Experts Shocked: Forced Organ Harvesting Targeting Minorities in China. Beijing Renouncing Furiously.” The article did not mention the Tribunal’s findings and “misled the readers to believe that the CCP’s forced organ harvesting was still an unconfirmed allegation.”
Dr. Chang remarked, “Sadly, the two examples discussed above are merely two of the numerous instances on the issue of the CCP’s organ harvesting crime where I have observed biased or problematic media reporting.”
When posing the question as to why the coverage on organ harvesting has been far from satisfactory, Dr. Chang explained the CCP has successfully used “sharp power” to exert control internationally “across all fields, including business, technologies, entertainment industries, publication, academics, as well as media. Therefore, any media company that has been connected to the Chinese market is possibly subjected to the CCP’s authoritarian control in order to maintain or expect more profits.”
The CCP has “aggressively extended their media apparatus to other countries by building international media networks, [and] connecting or cooperating with international media in many ways. For example, for many years, the CCP has bought ‘advertorial’ inserts in major U.S. newspapers such the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times.
It is therefore understandable, though not acceptable, that “in the case of the CCP’s human rights violations, the free world media, including several major mainstream media outlets, have shown a total lack of interest or biased reporting that down-plays the severity of the CCP’s human rights violations, such as forced organ harvesting.”
Dr. Chang offered a strategy to remedy this situation. First, the world must treat the CCP’s media outlets as agents of the Chinese regime, as the U.S. has done with the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Second, the CCP’s propaganda needs closer monitoring and analyzing so that “the public can have more information to make their own independent judgements without being misinformed and misled by the CCP’s propaganda.” Lastly, she expressed hope that more media could “restore and abide by their professional ethics” and “disclose the truth so that we can stop the crimes as early as possible. ‘Never again’ is a solemn oath we should not forget… This is the duty of all the free world media: ‘Never again, now!’”
Maurice Droin, Economist and Freelance Journalist, France
Maurice Droin, French economist and journalist, has worked for the French Ministry of Defense, New Caledonia’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and was lead consultant of negotiations for the Pacific region under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defense. For the past ten years, he has been a freelance journalist.
Mr. Droin questioned why the United Nations, the World Health Organization as well as the global media are silent on the issue of forced organ harvesting in China, a crime against humanity and postulated three main reasons.
The first is financial. Changing demographics have led the press to be more reliant on revenue from the state, industry, and wealthy individuals. Moreover, China has bought “publication space at a high price” resulting in “corruption of newspaper owners, editorial staff and journalists, most often through gifts, such as all-expenses-paid trips to China.”
The second is ideological, as “more than 80% of young graduates of journalism schools [are] socialist-communists, replacing constructive dialogue by opposition with insults such as ‘right-wing conspiracy theorist’ as soon as the Chinese Marxist doxa is questioned.”
The third is strategic. In addition to the French press being under the influence of the CCP “with the mission of promoting Maoist propaganda,” the Chinese have established Confucius Institutes at “those with laboratories or close to scientific or military research centres.” Mr. Droin pointed out that, “Oddly enough, the discoveries they work on are patented in China before they are patented in their country of origin. This surprises only those who do not know that the Confucius Institutes are an offshoot of the Chinese intelligence service. A Chinese law defines the amount of bonuses to be paid to teachers and students who have stolen and transmitted interesting information to Beijing via the local embassy. Since then, China has led the world in the number of patents it registers.”
Mr. Droin revealed that China’s ambassadors, who he calls Xi Jinping’s “warrior wolves,” pressure “governments to vote in favour of China in international institutions, to prevent sanctions being imposed to force China to respect human rights and international laws” and “for governments themselves to put pressure on their national press to respect the taboo on forced organ harvesting.” This results in doctors, elected officials, and policymakers turning a blind eye and ignoring or pretending to ignore China’s human rights abuses.
To stop China’s abuses, Mr. Droin appealed to each individual “to influence your social, professional and political environment, … to think about what you can do… Start by reading more of the free media, compare, analyse and draw your own conclusions, since the mainstream media no longer do this.” He advised us all to seek truth to preserve freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and to preserve human rights.
Hataru Nomura, Journalist, Japan
Mr. Nomura is the Secretary General of the SMG Network in Japan, an organization to address the issue of organ transplantation in China. He said that, due to media silence, it has taken three years of effort to raise enough awareness of China’s transplant abuses to get Japan’s parliament to start taking action.
He blamed the Japanese media’s reluctance on the country’s sense of atonement regarding damage Japan inflicted on China in WW II and that “the Japanese media, academia, and educational circles have widely fostered a phobia of China,” and if “the media doesn’t say anything… politicians don’t do anything.”
Mr. Nomura detailed how the Japanese media even praised China’s transplant system with a story of a Japanese woman who needed a heart transplant. “A Japanese hospital, a Japanese doctor, a Chinese consulate, and the Chinese government worked together to fly a chartered flight especially for her and brought her to a hospital in Wuhan to undergo a transplant operation. They had four hearts prepared for her. There were four donors prepared for her. The fact that the transplant surgery went well was seen as a great opportunity to advertise to Japanese society that Chinese transplants are so fast and can be done so cheaply. The TV station, whose mission is to report the news in Japan, broadcast the story as if it were complicit in the Chinese propaganda.”
Rather than believing the propaganda and becoming complicit in China’s organ harvesting, Mr. Nomura said “the whole world should speak out to stop medical genocide, stop organ harvesting.”
Zoé Valdés, Journalist, Author, Cinematographer and Visual Artist, Cuba
Ms. Valdés has long confronted the communist tyranny in Cuba and abroad. She has been professor and prestigious guest lecturer at such academic centers as La Sorbonne in Paris, Harvard University, Florida International University, and Queen Mary University in London.
Ms. Valdés adamantly declared, “I denounce, and will denounce with all my strength through my literary work and as a journalist, these crimes against dissidents who are punished, tortured, and killed for their beliefs, for their ideas and spiritual practices; who by now we know are, in China, the followers of Falun Gong (or Falun Dafa), adopted by millions of Chinese citizens since 1992, as well as against the Uyghurs. These criminal practices must end at once.”
She said, “Communist totalitarianism is responsible for all sorts of outrages and vandalisms against humanity. We believe that these atrocities are often overlooked or forgotten in an attempt to justify an ideology that is placed above the full rights of man of life and liberty.”
Ms. Valdés related how, beginning in the 1960s in Cuba, political prisoners were purposefully drained of blood prior to execution and Fidel Castro bragged about selling their healthy blood. The invasive and complicit silence that surrounded this horrendous practice is analogous to the “silence [from the press] we are witnessing in the face of organ harvesting in China that has claimed, and continues to claim, the lives of thousands of dissidents, of prisoners of conscience. We cannot allow it.”
She continued, “The press has been weakened, wounded in its very credibility, in its freedoms: it does not inform, does not denounce, does not investigate. But it copies, blurs, erases, and annihilates. The press is today the great ally of communism and its horrors. And we must also denounce this imperiously.”
Ms. Valés explained how “writers and journalists who have decided to [expose the truth], to denounce at our own risk, have doors closed to us, publishing houses closed. We are expelled from newspapers. Our actions are restricted, our thoughts and freedom to denounce are censored – everything on which our work and sustenance depend and therefore, our lives and the lives of our families.”
Despite the goals of communism “to shatter, to tear down, to annihilate, to erase, through the murder of credibility, and actual murder,” she urged “We must denounce these injustices committed by communism. Where? Is there any press and space left for us? If there is not, we should reinvent that press and those spaces. That is what I am trying to do, although without resources, without anything, but with truth and compassion. No one should live, and much less sleep peacefully, with this weight on the soul and conscience. We all have the right to a dignified life and to freedom. The abuses of Sino-communism must cease once and for all.”
Jiang Li, Falun Gong Practitioner and Witness, USA
Jiang Li, originally from mainland China, is now living in the United States. By sharing her family’s story of unjust persecution and death, the wall of silence the media has built around the victims of China’s human rights abuses can be breached so that the world can learn the truth.
Ms. Li’s story surrounds the imprisonment and death of her father who had been illegally detained and sentenced to a re-education-through-labor camp in 2008.
The day after visiting their father in the camp where he “looked all right,” the family received a call saying he had died an hour ago and were directed to the morgue. Upon viewing the body in the morgue’s freezer, they discovered that his face and chest were still warm. After pulling their father out of the freezer onto the floor to examine him further and start resuscitation, the family was forcibly removed from the morgue and never allowed to see him again. He was cremated without the family’s consent.
In an attempt to obtain justice for their father, the family hired lawyers in 2009 to help them, but both lawyers were detained and tortured by police. As recently as 2013, the police were still trying to coerce Ms. Li into dropping the case.
Ms. Li has joined thousands of other Falun Gong practitioners in suing the CCP. She said, “In June 2015, I went to the Supreme Court, Supreme Protectorate, and Ministry of Public Security to file charges against former CCP leader Jiang Zemin. He was the diabolical perpetrator, who caused the massive tragedy happening to hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong families. I hereby call upon the good and upright people around the world to join forces to stop the evil perpetrated by the CCP, end the persecution against Falun Gong, and bring those who have participated in persecuting my father and all the dead and injured Falun Gong practitioners to justice.”
Five members of Ms. Li’s family were illegally imprisoned for practicing Falun Gong, including both her parents, two sisters, and one brother
The Impact of Forced Organ Harvesting on Our Society
The fifth session addressed the impact and broad implications that forced organ harvesting has for civil society. Human rights atrocities, as part of a planned cold genocide, affect not only the victims and the perpetrators, but all of human society.
Larisa Vilsker, Human Rights Advocate, Retired Civil Engineer, Israel
Ms. Vilsker’s father escaped the Nazi created Warsaw Ghetto where most of his large family died. When she heard of “similar concentration camps in China, where people are illegally arrested, imprisoned, tortured [and] vital organs are forcibly removed,” she decided it was “my direct duty to call on the entire world community to stop this threat to all mankind.”
In 2006, she took part in a forum held in Auschwitz, Poland entitled “Never Again: Appeal to the World,” where the illegal organ harvesting in China’s concentration camps was discussed.
Ms. Vilsker admitted that, “For many countries China is a profitable economic partner; many countries have fallen under its economic dependence. For the sake of business and political gain they turn a blind eye to the monstrous things happening in China.”
But, rather than ignoring these things, she felt that we must care about China’s human rights abuses as “All people have one common home – our planet, Earth. And today we are given the opportunity to make a feasible contribution by restoring justice on our planet.”
Thierry Valle, President CAP Freedom of Conscience, France
Thierry Valle, President of the Coordination of Associations and Individuals for Freedom of Conscience (CAP Freedom of Conscience), one of the initiators of the World Summit and Universal Declaration on Combating and Preventing Forced Organ Harvesting, has been an active advocate for human rights, particularly concerning freedom of belief, for more than two decades.
Mr. Valle explained how the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was born after one of the darkest periods in our history. It was the grave violations committed against human dignity during the wars of the twentieth century, and particularly the atrocities committed during the Second World War, that brought the international community together to make a declaration that would be a safeguard against the recurrence of such crimes against human dignity.”
Yet today, “Forced organ harvesting is a great danger, as it violates universal ethical values and moral principles of human life and dignity,” he told viewers, with the main victims being Falun Gong practitioners and Uighurs.
Mr. Valle described the experience of his NGO, CAP Freedom of Conscience, with Chinese representatives to the United Nations Human Rights Council over the past four years during several attempts to denounce China’s human rights abuses against the Falun Gong and Uighurs as well as new laws that worsened China’s restrictions of religious freedom.
In its response, or lack thereof, to requests from NGOs and UN experts on human rights, China has exerted influence over the Human Rights Council by downplaying the nature of re-education camps and refusing to allow interference in its internal affairs. Additionally, the Chinese regime has its own propaganda promulgated by NGOs that it had created itself to spread false information “to justify their policy of repression.”
Despite citing interference in its internal affairs as the reason to avoid addressing concerns over their human rights abuses, Mr. Valle said that the “Chinese government does not hesitate to impose its propaganda in French and European universities. China establishes Confucius Institutes in French universities, which, under the guise of academic exchange, take advantage of the opportunity to spread their propaganda and attack academics or students who question the official doctrine of [the] Chinese government.”
In addition, the CCP’s influence over the French media was demonstrated last June after “UN experts issued a statement saying that they had received “credible information” that prisoners from ethnic, linguistic, and religious minorities were being subjected to forced organ harvesting in China.” The French news agency AFP, while reporting on the UN statement, parroted the CCP propaganda that “China is regularly accused by members of the Falun Gong cult.”
Mr. Valle detailed some of the “reports to the UN and international bodies regarding human rights violations and persecution of Falun Gong members.” Both UN experts and European delegates reiterated concerns about human rights in China during the 44th Session of the Human Rights Council last year. In June of this year, UN experts again expressed concern about forced organ harvesting in China stating, “Forced organ harvesting in China appears to target specific ethnic, linguistic or religious minorities: Falun Gong practitioners, Uighurs, Tibetans, Muslims, and Christians, detained often without explanation of the reasons of their arrest or the issuance of an arrest warrant, in different locations. We are deeply concerned about reports of discriminatory treatment of prisoners and detainees based on their ethnicity and religion or belief.”
Mr. Valle lamented that “For years, civil society has been alerting national and international bodies to the catastrophic human rights situation in China” but “China does not change its rhetoric and demands to states or authorities to not interfere in its internal politics and its diplomacy, violently attacks all those questioning its propaganda.”
He recommended that the international community hold China accountable to “meet the standard of treaties that were signed or partially signed” such as the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and that China should be made to respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as the treaties it signed.
Antonella Marty, Author, Associate Director, Atlas Network’s Center for Latin America, Argentina
Antonella Marty, Associate Director at the Atlas Network’s Center for Latin America, is also the Director at the Center for Latin American Studies at Fundación Libertad (Argentina) and Senior Fellow at Fundación Internacional para la Libertad (Spain) led by the Nobel Laureate Mario Vargas Llosa. Ms. Marty also acted as a public policy advisor for the Argentinian Parliament from 2015 to 2017 and is the author of three books: The Intellectual Populist Dictatorship (2015), What Every Revolutionary of the 21st Century Should Know (2018) and Capitalism: Antidote to Poverty (2019).
In 1848, Marx and Engels “wrote the Communist Manifesto and from that moment on planted the seed for the great problems, bloodthirsty genocides and totalitarianisms that were to follow.” Ms. Marty pointed out that all forms of Communism tried throughout history “have been harmful… and that have never given a good result, because they go against the nature of the human being.”
In 1949, Mao took power in China and oversaw the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. A brief review of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution allowed Ms. Marty to set the backdrop for “the complex human rights situation throughout China.”
Today, “Police control and persecution of all dissidence abound on the streets of China. Human rights are violated daily, and there is censorship in the media. Political opposition is strictly prohibited, there are political prisoners, practically all individual freedoms are absent and human rights are constantly violated.”
Ms. Marty described the persecution of Falun Dafa practitioners as one “of the many atrocities committed by the CCP.” She explained that “Falun Dafa is neither a political doctrine, nor an economic theory, nor is it a militant protest movement.”
Rather, she said that “Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong, is an ancient Chinese discipline of the Buddha School to cultivate and refine body, mind, and spirit. It is based upon the three principles of truth, benevolence and tolerance – things that Communism has rejected and persecuted throughout its history – and this allows practitioners to improve and better themselves as people. This is something that any human being, any kind of life, without harming others, must be totally allowed to do, to be accepted and respected.”
She described how “In its persecution, the Chinese Communist Party uses the most perverse methods known to mankind: brainwashing, slave labor in forced labor camps, extreme torture such as beatings, shocks with electric batons, rape, and food deprivation. And of course, what brings us together today at this summit – the forced removal of organs from living practitioners.”
In order to stop the “terrible slaughter [that] has been going on in China for decades,” Ms. Marty said, “the role of civil society is fundamental in defending the freedom of a country that is tormented by a bloodthirsty regime that lies to the whole world… From civil society organizations, think tanks, foundations, the media, meeting clubs – even in family gatherings, with friends, in every space where we can, we must carry the message of the suffering that is being endured in China and in dozens of countries around the world that are still clinging to life in the clutches of Communism.”
Maria Cheung, PhD, Professor and Associate Dean at the Faculty of Social Work, and Research Affiliate at the Centre for Human Rights Research, University of Manitoba, Canada
Over the last twenty years, Dr. Cheung has received grants to conduct research in Canada, Hong Kong, and China. She has published numerous peer-reviewed journal articles related to the human rights of Falun Gong and co-authored Cold Genocide: Falun Gong in China in the International Journal of Genocide Studies and Prevention which has been downloaded over 8,000 times since its publication in June 2018.
Dr. Cheung argued that the forced organ harvesting of Falun Gong is not only a crime against humanity but also “a genocide which involved both physical and non-physical destruction of the Falun Gong group.” It is “a cold genocide which is hidden and lingers for over two decades without much notice. It is a genocide by attrition which is a slow process of annihilation that reflects the unfolding phenomenon of mass killing of a protected group under disguise – [as] the public [doesn’t] see an immediate unleashing of violent death.”
“Cultural genocide [is] the destruction of a common conscience [which] is the true essence and definition of a group. In the case of the Falun Gong, the target is the mind or spiritual being of the group that the Chinese Communist regime wants to destroy,” she added.
She explained that “Falun Gong, aka Falun Dafa, is a peaceful spiritual practice that espouses the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance, with five sets of gentle qigong exercises. The spiritual discipline fits into the Western paradigm of religion, so the Western legal framework considers Falun Gong a protected religious group.”
When the persecution began in July 1999, directives were handed down from the highest level of the government “ordering a comprehensive clean-up of the Falun Gong” with instructions to “defame their reputations, bankrupt them financially and destroy them physically.” Ongoing “’zero-out’ campaigns in China are all directed at the annihilation of the group.”
As a result of the CCP’s initial campaign failing to succeed in fully eliminating Falun Gong, the regime then began an extended phase of unlawful incarceration, coerced recantation and physical destruction. Coerced recantation attempts to break practitioners’ will with forced labor along with physical and psychological torture until they recant their faith in a written pledge. State-sanctioned forced organ harvesting, “with the profit motive attached to it,” has been one means of eradicating practitioners physically.
Dr. Cheung explained, “For those subjected to forced organ harvesting or being tortured to death, it’s a bodily destruction, period. For those who signed the pledge, it is spiritual and social death. Claudia Card described social death as a loss of social vitality which is loss of identity, and thereby of the meaning for one’s existence,” and added, “Social death and spiritual death, unlike physical massacre, are silent and bloodless, but they achieve a similar, profound effect in the pursuit of eradication. They are central to the understanding of the evil of genocide.”
She then described how the relentless propaganda strategies of the CCP “ensure mainstream society both ignores and rejects the existence of this group [Falun Gong] like a tumor or virus that they should get rid of. The result of such normalization is inattention from the public in China and the international community. It creates an environment in which a cold genocide, a genocide by attrition, can thrive and be sustained for over twenty years.”
Dr. Cheung concluded, “A crime of this extent, in the scope of a genocide, puts humankind at a critical position. We can’t just discuss it as an academic interest without taking meaningful actions.” She said the Universal Declaration on Combating and Preventing Forced Organ Harvesting will be “an important step of action” though “more needs to follow.”
Oskar Freysinger, Author and Former Member of Parliament, Switzerland
Mr. Freysinger, with degrees in French and German literature and German philology, has been a member of the Swiss Parliament and a State Councilor of the National Council. He has also authored over 20 books.
He first quoted a phrase from Albert Camus’ The First Man, “A man, he refrains,” meaning that “men do not have the right to do whatever they want just because they can. There is a line that separates human beings from the monster that lies within them. This line is formed by the courage to say NO.”
“By knowing how to say NO, the individual makes himself independent of any external pressure, whether collective, authoritarian or ideological. By saying NO, he accepts the existence of a limit determined by an invisible, immutable law that no one can transgress with impunity without losing his soul… Beyond this limit, barbarity begins.”
He explained that “Contrary to the man who refrains, there is Prince Machiavelli for whom the end justifies the means, even if they are degrading. According to him, he who wants the end, must want the means” as exemplified by every materialist-atheist system that places its own ideology above all else.
“In order to keep up appearances and to hide its barbarity, [every materialist-atheist system] is forced to deny the soul, the uniqueness of the being, it will dehumanize society on purpose by claiming that the individual is nothing and that the collective is everything… [shaping] human society into an anthill where everything is subject to the interests of the collective.”
“The Chinese Communist Party… cannot accept the mystical approach of Falun Gong. Since it has no control over anything beyond matter, it mercilessly hunts down anything that might transcend matter and thus escape its control.”
Mr. Freysinger said generally, “the artistic world has always been the last line of defense of human rights and human dignity against barbarity. Artists, and intellectuals in a broader sense, are like the conscience of a people or a nation. They must have the courage, through their actions and words, to denounce any attack on the physical and moral integrity of their fellow human beings. They must know how to say NO.”
However, he said, “concerning the criminal harvesting of organs from Falun Gong members by the Chinese Communist Party, the silence of the cultural world is deafening.” He blamed this on the leftist leanings of those of the “current cultural world” who overlook what is happening in China today as “Their tolerance and their ‘humanism’ stop where the imperatives of their ideology begin.”
According to Mr. Freysinger, artists should “denounce, reveal, create islands of awareness through artistic expression… to give a soul to the victim by the representation of his suffering.”
Although he said the first step in stopping China’s crimes is for each individual “to refuse to lie to oneself and to keep silent out of cowardice or self-interest,” it is the artists “who should set an example by saying NO… because they have powerful means of expression to make the torturers understand that they themselves are victims.”
“[P]ositive acts added together will eventually overcome the disempowerment of the masses who, never before in history, have been able to refrain from committing what their herd power allowed them to perpetrate with impunity, well hidden in the madding crowd,” he said, adding, “when all the inhabitants of the earth know how to refrain, there will be no need to refrain them from committing what they would not even do to their dog.”
“Now, an ant is defined by its number. An ant, it cannot refrain.”
Policies and Legislation to Respond to Forced Organ Harvesting Crimes
In the sixth and final session, policy makers and parliamentarians from local and international levels proposed steps that could be taken to effectively combat transplant abuse and prevent forced organ harvesting from living persons in China.
Arthur L. Caplan, PhD, Mitty Professor of Bioethics, Director NYU Grossman School of Medicine, USA
Professor Caplan, renowned professor of medical ethics and an expert in the ethics of transplant medicine, is currently head of the Division of Bioethics at New York University Langone Medical Center. He was former chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and the Sidney D. Caplan Professor of Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia.
Although many would like to fully include Chinese professionals in the international medical and scientific communities, Professor Caplan said, “there continue to be serious ethical problems with transplantation in China that must be addressed before that can happen.”
He stated there “remains insufficient transparency and verification of organ procurement practices” despite “extraordinary rates of growth in hospital based organ procurement… over the past 25 years” in China. The fact that Chinese authorities consider transplant data a state secret is “simply unacceptable.”
Professor Caplan explained that China’s voluntary organ donation numbers seem “too good to be true.” The problem arises, he said, when China categorizes people as prisoners just “because of their ethnicity, their race, their tribal customs, their religious or spiritual practices.” Prisoners are then reclassified as voluntary donors who have supposedly given free and voluntary consent. This is “morally unacceptable,” he stated, adding, “Voluntary consent is almost impossible to obtain, for post mortem donation in a prison context, too coercive, too exploitative.”
“We’re in a situation where it is not time to give up on pressing for further reform and further protection of those involved in organ donation, organ procurement in China,” Professor Caplan concluded, and “We can’t yet bring Chinese transplant and Chinese medicine and science into the world community until those reforms occur.”
Jaime César Naranjo Ortiz, Congressman, Member of Parliament, Chile
Mr. Naranjo is a member of the Chilean Parliament, the former vice president of the Chamber of Deputies, and former vice president of the Senate. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the National Human Rights Prize; the “Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur” from the President of France and the “Light and Memory” award from the Jewish community.
Mr. Naranjo opened his remarks with the simple, firm assertion that “Consent is the ethical cornerstone of any medical intervention.” In every country, the process for obtaining and recording this consent must meet international ethical standards and safeguard against abuse.
Calling organ trafficking a violation of human dignity and the right to life, Mr. Naranjo suggested that there must be national and international law to “criminalize and punish the illicit removal of organs from living or deceased donors.”
In the case of China, Mr. Naranjo cited reports that the national transplant volume far exceeds the number of transplants officially reported by the state and forced organ removal “appears to be directed at members of ethnic, linguistic or religious minorities who are detained… without any explanation of the reasons for their arrest or any warrant for their arrest.”
Despite the Chinese regime’s promises to stop harvesting prisoner organs, Mr. Naranjo explained that transplant experts believe that the crimes continue to this day, and he noted that “all six inspections of hospitals in China in 2015 by international agencies were pre-scheduled, and none of the authorized visits took place at an active transplant facility.”
Mr. Naranjo proposed six solutions: 1) Investigation in China by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; 2) Monitoring by the WHO for compliance to the guiding principles for ethics in transplant medicine; 3) Ratification of the Convention against Organ Trafficking of the Council of Europe, the first binding international instrument dedicated exclusively to the fight against organ trafficking, by all UN nations; 4) Criminalizing of organ removal; 5) “International cooperation…for the prosecution of the crimes of organ removal and trafficking in terms of investigation, extradition, confiscation and seizure;” and 6) Resolutions in all nations to condemn these transplant violations, “particularly in China.”
Mr. Naranjo concluded by encouraging the adoption of the Universal Declaration for Preventing and Combating Forced Organ Harvesting and stating “I believe that the international community cannot remain indifferent to what we have been witnessing in recent years…I believe that the rights of people, the fundamental human rights are precisely about respecting their dignity. We cannot remain silent; we cannot be indifferent to what is happening in the international field, and particularly in China in relation to illegal organ trafficking. That is why we must act together.”
Elisabetta Zamparutti, Lawyer, Member of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture, Council of Europe, Former Member Italian Parliament, Italy
Additionally, Ms. Zamparutti is treasurer of “Hands Off Cain,” an NGO for abolition of the death penalty worldwide, and board member of “Prison Insider,” an NGO for worldwide information on prison conditions. She is considered an expert in monitoring prison conditions and treatment of detainees.
“The word ‘torture,’ Ms. Zamparutti explained, “comes from the Latin tortus, which means “wrong.” In China, there is no rule of law, there is the ‘rule of wrong,’ of torture.” While torture is widespread in China, “forced organ harvesting is something unacceptable, violently unimaginable,” where people have their vital organs removed against their will while being detained “for religious reasons, for their conscience, for their way of being, for their way of thinking.”
Industrial, systematic in scale, and used for profit, forced organ harvesting in China is performed by doctors, surgeons, anesthesiologists, and nurses. “People who should have the welfare of human beings at heart…instead become part of this infernal machine, this inhuman machine.” She said this reality “should really make us reflect on the one hand, but should also shame us as human beings.”
Stressing the importance of interventions such as those done by the current and former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Ms. Zamparutti said that the China Tribunal’s determination that forced organ harvesting is a crime against humanity “is really the most appropriate definition for this practice that is so widespread and so unacceptable.”
In China, the targeted prisoners are forced to undergo blood tests and exams of their organs, the results of which are “entered into a database to facilitate the placement of removed organs.” She continued by saying that “the families of prisoners who have had their organs removed do not even have the opportunity, do not even have the right, to have back the bodies of their loved ones.”
“Now this is a truly hellish scenario that must lead us to mobilize as organizations committed to the protection of human rights, of individuals, and also as institutions. I think that there should be an appeal to everyone, to citizens but also to supranational bodies.” The United Nations, the World Health Organization, the Council of Europe, the European Parliament can end cooperation with China and its medical system, Ms. Zamparutti argued. “In the face of this shame of humanity, we must also ask ourselves what we can do to change the situation.”
An advocate for the abolition of the death penalty, Ms. Zamparutti noted that there have been successes in the international battle against the death penalty but that in China “these practices of hidden death penalties, such as organ harvesting on prisoners, continue.” The solutions must include investigation into this crime against humanity and a system to monitor the Chinese regime by independent international observers.
Ms. Zamparutti shared that she “was shocked to hear and read reports of how explantation also occurs on detainees who are still alive…detainees associated with the Falun Gong spiritual movement…All of this needs to be known, but I believe in the end, that what needs to be leveraged are the very principles that Falun Gong practices. I am referring to Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance. In facing this battle, we need to embody these principles, truth, compassion, and tolerance, and we need to be strong in them.”
She concluded, “So we have to change China, we can change it, we can do it if first of all we practice what the Chinese regime wants to erase, truth, compassion and tolerance.”
Krzysztof Łoziński, Journalist, Poland
Mr. Łoziński, Polish political and human rights activist, was a leader in the Solidarity movement in Poland for which he spent 15 years in prison. He is a noted journalist, chief editor, photographer, author, and alpinist.
Mr. Łoziński asserted from the start that indifference was at the heart of why there is a “lack of reaction from a large number of people in the West, most of all from politicians, businessmen, celebrities, researchers and academia, but also from everyday people. There is a clear lack of action against the atrocities of the Chinese regime.”
Given accurate information, many people would “get involved in the defence of human rights and would react to such crimes” but, Mr. Łoziński pointed out that the “knowledge Westerners have about the Chinese can be very limited and even false,” and the history of China is simply not taught. To address this problem, we should start with educating the journalists “who are responsible for passing on knowledge to people… If they are knowledgeable on a subject, then they present factual information. If they do not know, then they should not present any news based on false knowledge.”
Another issue, according to Mr. Łoziński, is that those who are raised in free democratic countries “do not understand the true nature of a dictatorship…They do not understand that the biggest danger to everyone is the fact that a dictator can do anything and everything they want. That there are no boundaries for them, with nothing to restrain them.”
Mr. Łoziński asked why “such a horrible thing as organ harvesting [is] taking place, where most victims are people from the Falun Gong community, ordinary citizens not involved in politics, who are simply being rounded-up and murdered because someone found that they could use their kidney or their heart to be sold.” His answer was that dictators consider people as tools at their disposal. “There are no civil rights and no human rights. Humans are a part of the masses. Communist systems talk about masses, not about people. That is why people can be subjected to such treatment. Here we should remind ourselves of Stalin’s famous quote ‘people are numerous in our country, so what if they die, we have a lot of people.’ For dictatorships, people are just a resource.”
Standard reactions “in the face of such atrocities” include ignoring it entirely as having nothing to do with oneself, running away from the country or “to take the stance to fight. The stance to fight is difficult, it requires sacrifices…But who’s sacrifice was it? Was it those who ran away into their private lives? No, it was the disobedient, those who took a stance…Those who sacrificed and risked their lives. Of course, it is very difficult to take such a stance. Courage of convictions has its price even in our private lives – it can manifest in many ways.”
In closing, Mr. Łoziński quoted a saying of Władysław Bartoszewski, a famous Polish historian, journalist and Auschwitz survivor, who partook in the Warsaw uprising. “He said: ‘It paid to be moral.’ In this case, I would say it pays to be resistant.”
Thomas Rohden, Chair Danish China-Critical Society, Human Rights Activist, Denmark
Mr. Rohden, a political science student at the University of Copenhagen, is known for his humanitarian and advocacy work in supporting Hong Kong Democratic dissidents, and combatting human rights violations by China.
Currently, he is running for council in the greater area of Copenhagen, and finds it hypocritical that the area has a friendship agreement in place with China. As a region that promotes UN Development goals and tries to better the world, he stated that they should not be “pillow talking” with China “because the Chinese regime is not doing this world better. It’s doing evil things to this world.”
Mr. Rohden asserted that his first move if elected, will be to end the friendship agreement with China “because as a region that believes in human rights…that believes in equality for human beings, we can’t be friends with a country where they are making a genocide against the Uyghurs, cracking down on the Hong Kongers and stealing organs from the Falun Gong.”
He also offered some optimism, stating that he can feel new political beliefs arising in his generation. “We don’t just want to sell our products to China. If that means we can’t tell the truth about what China is doing. And that means we are selling out our own soul.”
Mr. Rohden believes that the world and “especially European countries who have been falling behind will step up and say to the Chinese regime that we cannot accept the way you are behaving in this world. We cannot accept the way you are destroying the global society, and we cannot accept the way that you are treating your own people.”
Praising the importance of the World Summit, Mr. Rohden said that it is “doing what the Chinese regime is fearing the most – is telling the truth. And the truth is a very, very, very powerful thing. Because the truth is often what is taking regimes and pulling them down from their all might.”
He encouraged everyone to continue to stand up to the CCP and to tell the truth about the CCP and “how the regime is destroying humanity by taking the dignity away from people. Because this is what the regime is fearing the most, that we will stand up every day and tell the truth about the horrible things that they’re doing to this world.”
Debra Holbrook, MSN, RN, FNE-A/P, SANE-A, DF-AFN, FAAN Academy of Forensic Nursing
Mrs. Holbrook is a critical care nurse, expert for the U.S. Departments of Justice and Defense on forensic nursing science, and founder of the Forensic Nurse Examiner Program. A Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, she is acting Director of Forensic Nursing at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore.
Mrs. Holbrook said, “The practice of forced organ harvesting is a form of human trafficking in its most egregious form, and we as forensic nurses have not only the responsibility, but also the obligation, to support all efforts to abolish these acts, no matter where they’re being performed.”
In her work creating partnerships to raise awareness of human trafficking among hospitals and local, state, and federal agencies, Mrs. Holbrook said, “We have added forced organ harvesting to the list of human trafficking crimes and created awareness in hospitals, including keeping a watchful eye out for patients who suddenly make plans to leave the waiting list for legally procured organ transplants to travel abroad. This potentially flags these patients as perpetuating this market of organ harvesting. We are looking for those health care providers who may be involved in arranging for these patients to leave the country for illegal harvesting, and we’ll fight to support their prosecution.”
She told listeners, “In numbers, nurses have the power, as well as the moral and ethical obligation, to hold each other accountable as health care providers, to educate our peers as well as our communities that forced organ harvesting must be abolished worldwide. As citizens of the world we are all potential victims of this crime. As we travel abroad to countries who have not made this practice illegal. No person has the authority to decide who is worthy of living and who is not worthy.”
The Academy of Forensic Nursing “is committed to legislation and practice worldwide that abolishes all forms of human trafficking, including forced organ harvesting, and builds partnerships to create a unified voice that advances human rights across the world.”
David Curtis, MA, MBBS, MD PhD, FRCPsych, Honorary Professor, UCL Genetics Institute, University College London and the Center for Psychiatry, Queen Mary University, London
Dr. Curtis currently researches genetic risk factors for mental illness. As the former Editor-in-Chief of the Annals of Human Genetics, he declined journal submissions from China over concerns that mass DNA collection is being used as part of China’s human rights abuses, including forced organ harvesting.
Dr. Curtis said that we know that forced organ harvesting, arbitrary arrests, detentions and disappearances, often without proper judicial processes, and mass genetic testing across minority and regional populations are all happening in China. Additionally, people are sometimes subjected to forced medical examinations and blood testing either in their own communities or while in detention.
Such blood testing can be used to find “a good donor for an organ transplant or a tissue transplant.” This means that “Chinese authorities are now capable of doing this if somebody needs a bone marrow transplant, but it might be a heart or a kidney or a lung needed. If somebody needs a transplant, then what can happen now (in China) is that the authorities can go through the DNA banks that they have. They can identify a suitable donor and that donor does not have to be a convicted prisoner. Now it does not have to be a prisoner. It does not have to be a detainee, because it can be someone just walking on the street, going to work, going to school, at home. There could be a knock on the door, and that person can be detained, taken from their home, taken from their workplace – never seen again because they are a good match for somebody who needs an organ transplant.” The entire population of China could be a “kind of a human farm of potential organ donors.”
Dr. Curtis said, “we could be doing something about it.” Since the Chinese regime cares about worldwide scientific recognition, by refusing to publish Chinese research papers, “we could seek to influence China’s behavior.” He said we should be telling the authors of research papers that we are aware that members of their profession in China are complicit in unethical practices and we should refuse to publish any research that presents ethical concerns.
Such a refusal can accomplish two things, according to Dr. Curtis. It would apply pressure to Chinese scientists, as publishing is crucial to their careers, and raise awareness among Chinese professionals of the “egregious human rights abuses” perpetrated by colleagues in their own country.